In these days when the mediocre character who plays the diplomatic chief of the European Union has defined Europe as a paradisiacal garden surrounded by a wild jungle that is the rest of the world, which threatens it and from which it must defend itself, it seemed to me that It was worth remembering what throughout these last 3 centuries has been the treatment that Europe has given to the Third World, especially Asia and Africa, treatment that these peoples neither can nor want to forget. It is a subject on which I have written essays and made radio and television programs.
In these last 3 centuries the innocent little squirrelIn other words, that expansive, racist and colonialist Europe, in order to colonize them, not only crushed those Asian and African countries through criminal colonialist wars, it massacred their peoples, stole their material wealth, kept them subject to its authoritarian, racist and contemptuous rule leading them to misery, but instead destroyed their cultures and plundered their enormous historical heritage, which was the maternal source of the very culture of that Europe that despises them so much. And it is this cultural looting that I want to remember in this and future articles.
And I enter once in the subject. Imagine in the British Museum a group of rich Nigerian tourists, (they have to be to be able to travel around Europe). The group is admiring a masterpiece of Nigerian art, their country: the Benin bronzes. Let us now imagine some Egyptian tourists, also rich, in the Louvre, admiring the Seated Scribe, a masterpiece of Egyptian art, their country. We follow this or a similar group of tourists to the Berlin Museum and see them now admiring the bust of Nefertiti, another famous piece of Egyptian art, owned by the German state, Germany's cultural heritage.
To most of the people on this side of the world that seems normal and does not attract their attention, either because they are colonized without knowing it, or because they ignore or despise thinking about the matter. But if they thought a little about it, they would have to ask themselves an inescapable question: why Asians and Africans (the few rich who can do it) must travel to European museums to see the monuments of their ancestors, which are the cultural heritage of their peoples? The answer is simple: because the Europeans stole them to take them to Europe. And why, on the other hand, do Europeans never travel to Asia or Africa to see their own? The answer is the same: because by the work of European thieves, they are almost all in Europe.
Question and answer can be detailed. Why is the Egyptian Rosetta Stone not found in the Cairo Museum or the oldest manuscript of the Christian New Testament in the Saint Catherine's Monastery on Sinai? Why are the gates of ancient Babylon in Berlin and not in Iraq where Babylon was? why does this seem natural? Because for centuries European archaeologists have been seen and known to excavate in African and Asian cities and fields and never have Africans and Asians been seen doing the same in European fields and cities. And because, in addition to digging, the Europeans stole everything they found. And when they didn't steal it, they got it for free. Is it imaginable that a French government gives a tower of Notre Dame in Paris to the Egyptian government, or that the British government gives Egypt a wing of the English Parliament, or that the Germans give Iraq the Brandenburg Gate?
Why is Europe full of museums rich above all in ancient treasures from Asia and Africa, and to a lesser degree from Latin America, while in Asia and Africa there are countries that lack museums? When in 1970 the city of Benin, in Nigeria, which was celebrating a decade of independence from England, wanted to inaugurate an ethnographic museum, it had to do so with photos of its famous Ifé bronzes and its Nok terracottas, cut from old newspapers, because the pieces, Stolen by English colonialists, they were in the British Museum, and England, the thief, refused to lend them.
What is the reason and cause of all this? The answer that gathers and answers all these questions is only one: colonialism, European colonialism. And it is that colonialism is not only the occupation of countries, the looting of raw materials, gold and silver, gas and oil, and economic and political subjection; It is also, above all, archaeological and cultural looting, destruction of the cultural identity of the colonized peoples, who are racially despised, but whose valuable historical heritage these colonizers appropriate. And they are always European; (or American and Japanese).
We are told that art and culture are the patrimony of all humanity. But, as always, it happens that some, the Europeans and then the Yankees, are more humane than the others; that is to say, that they are the true humanity. Hammurabi's Code was created by the Mesopotamians, but it should be in the Louvre; the Rosetta stone is Egyptian, but it should be in the British Museum; the gate of Babylon is Iraqi and the bust of Nefertiti Egyptian, but both must be in Berlin. And it is that the most powerful countries in Europe steal heritage from even weaker European countries: the Parthenon friezes are Greek, but they are better in the British Museum; the pyramids of Egypt were saved thanks to their size; and even the Taj Mahal was about to be demolished by the British colonial masters of India to keep only parts of it in Britain.
Europe is a thief. And when a European country returns something stolen, it is to another European country, and if it does, it is only because it has been defeated in a European war and the victor, or an alliance more powerful than it, forces it to return what it has stolen. Defeated Napoleon in 1815, France returns to Italy (to Venice) the horses of the Basilica of San Marcos, but the Venetians had stolen them from the Byzantine Greeks in the Middle Ages, with the fourth Crusade, in 1204. And in that same In the modern XNUMXth century, the English rob Greece of the friezes of the Parthenon and a caryatid of the Erechtheion, and instead poor Greece is left without horses, without a frieze and without a caryatid.
Cultural looting is a key part of colonialism and the racism that accompanies it. The European colonizers admired the ancient cultures of the colonized peoples and appreciated their artistic and monetary value, but they despised the current peoples, reduced to serving as pawns in the excavation and transport of the stolen pieces, or, in other cases, to being accomplices. impoverished who sold their past for crumbs. And so, those European looters who invaded those countries and robbed and destroyed their temples and monuments, ripping off friezes and cutting off the heads of statues, argued that these peoples were unaware of their past, that they could not and did not know how to take care of those riches and that it was necessary preserve them in the museums of Europe, where they were not only more appreciated, but also safer.
The destructive excavation, handling and looting of pyramids, temples, palaces and ruins of ancient cities was done through colonial agreements through consuls and with impromptu archaeologists or thieves who knew what they were looking for and bribed local officials to get the treasures for nothing. that they were interested Because in addition, this cultured and semi-official looting, which stole and looted but had certain limits and controls, was soon accompanied and combined with the indiscriminate looting committed by private individuals, antique dealers, tourists, travelers, merchants and simple thieves, also organizers of clandestine drug trafficking. valuable and ancient works of art from those towns, a criminal business that has not stopped, as it is still alive despite all the controls.